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I’ve long stated that the best investment you can make is in canned goods, and other necessities.  You can’t eat gold, or stock certificates, or even real estate (though you can grow gardens on that last).  In the wake of all the repeating disasters, it seems even more important and more sensible.

So, all right you say, I’ll stock up, but what are the best things to stock up on?  The answer isn’t as obvious as it might seem.  There are some things that last well, but you won’t eat them, and some things that you eat regularly, but that don’t last well.  So storing disaster food and resources can be kind of tricky, unless you have lots of extra money to spend on the pre-packeaged ready made disaster food supplies.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any extra cash laying around for things like that.  My disaster storage shopping comes out of my regular budget.  I just buy a few extra cans of food each time, and stash them in the back, the oldest stuff up front, so I’ll always use the canned goods before they go bad.

A good can will last at least five years (yes, I’ve tested this with some very well canned peaches).  Some will last longer, depending on the contents, and the way the can is made. So how do you know if it’s a good can?  Test it.  Buy two or three different kinds of any type of canned goods your family likes to eat.  Taste is even more important than can type, because if you and your family don’t like the flavor, or texture, you won’t eat it, and the canned goods will spoil from disuse.   Look at the inside of the can.  Does it have a plain tin can interior?  It’s shelf life is more like two years.  If it has a sort of yellow/gold coating on the interior, it will last longer.

How do you know if a can of something has gone bad?  If the can is leaking any sort of fluid, it’s bad.  If it’s visibly rusting around the rim, check the seal.  If the can lid is movable (that is, it can be pressed inward), it’s bad.  If the can is bulging anywhere, it’s bad.  Throw out bad cans immediately.

The next thing to consider when shopping for disaster storage is what does the meal need to be prepared?  If your recipe calls for something to be added that may not be available during a disaster, due to electrical failures, or road closures or some other form of shortage, then you’re going to have a problem.  Consider storing things that go with each other, so you will have all the ingredients together to make your meals.  I have a few favorites that work for my family.

One of them is Chili Mac.  You guessed it, a box of  macaroni and cheese and a can of chili.  You have to also have canned milk and be able to make this without butter, just in case butter isn’t available at the time.  It’s not bad and it’s easy to make.  Also store water.  Noodles need some of that to cook in.  I re-use milk jugs with the screw on caps, and the heavy plastic Apple juice jugs with screw on caps are even better.  I just wash them out thoroughly and refill them with tap water.  It already has all the additives it needs to keep for a while (not years, but months).  I store the milk jugs in the basement or around the bathroom floor, because milk jugs sometimes break down too fast, but the heavy plastic apple juice jugs can be washed out, refilled and stored anywhere.  They hold up longer.

The other thing you have to consider when storing things for disasters is how to cook it.  A hibachi grill is pretty good.  You need to store charcoal and fluid (please store lighter fluids in an Outside storage area).  Or some of the camp stoves and their accompanying fuel cylinders (again, please store these in cool, dry spaces away from your living/sleeping areas).   I have found that a three wick candle under a coffee can can cook a meal as well.  A three wick candle is easy to store and won’t accidentally blow up, so I like to store these.  You do have to keep the candles and matches out of the reach of children.  I recommend a locked storage, or child safe cabinet if you have small children around.

In case you fear you’ll get tired of chili mac, here’s another recipe for food storage items that work for us.

Beef stroganoff:  You’ll need

1 two quart sauce pan

1 small skillet

6 cups water to cook in

1 lb. package of egg noodles

1 16 oz. can of cream of chicken soup

1 16 oz. can of beef chunks

1 tablespoon of your favorite seasoning mixture

(mine are a mixture of salt, turmeric, garlic powder, onion powder, new mexico chili powder/Paprika)

Cook the noodles in the six cups of water till done and then add the cream of chicken soup.

Open the beef chunks and drain the water into something else (don’t use it in the cooking, I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the flavor of the water in the beef chunks)

Put the beef chunks in a skillet and add the seasoning mixture.  Let simmer for a few minutes, then add the seasoned beef chunks to the noodles and soup mixture. Stir together and serve.

*If you have butter, or margarine, you can simmer the beef chunks in that before adding to the noodles.

My family loves this meal.  You can also use cream of mushroom in this recipe if your family like mushrooms.

© Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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